The Obama Administration grossly miscalculated the reaction that American Catholics would have to the new Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring Catholic institutions such as schools, hospitals, and charities, to purchase health insurance that covers contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs–all of which are immoral according to Catholic teaching.
Stories in the Huffington Post and others covering the controversy are quick to point out that 98% percent of sexually active Catholic women have used birth control; whether these women are all actively practicing Catholics is not discussed. Regardless, the point is moot. The Catholic Church is a 2,000 year-old global institution; its orthodoxy is not governed by polling in the United States. Further, the First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” There is no stipulation saying, “unless Congress determines that some followers of that religion do not strictly adhere to all of that religion’s tenets.” Many Jews do not keep kosher, so can Congress pass a law prohibiting those who do from continuing?
Catholics may disagree with the rules of the Church, as children at times disagree with the rules of their parents, but it does not mean that Catholics do not respect or love the Church just as a rebellious child still respects and loves his parents. The Obama Administration gambled that Catholics would choose Obama over the Church. The sheer arrogance is mind-blowing. As Peggy Noonan wrote in her WSJ column, “there was nothing for the president to gain, except, perhaps, the pleasure of making a great church bow to him.”
Even some Catholic liberals like the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne have spoken out against the mandate. When E.J. Dionne and I are in agreement, there is something incredibly wrong in the world. The pressure on the Administration is growing and will be unrelenting. The Catholic vote matters to Obama and eventually, I believe, the Administration will capitulate. If it isn’t soon, the damage to his image with Catholics could be irreparable.
This past weekend, Catholic bishops around the country wrote letters, to be read at Sunday Masses, condemning the attack on religious freedom. Among these bishops was Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix and Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the Archbishop of Military Services who wrote that the HHS rule was, “a blow to the freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle.”
As National Review reports, the Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains actually tried to prevent Catholic chaplains from reading Archbishop Broglio’s letter from the pulpit. The Executive Branch tramples on freedom of religion and then tries to silence those who object–these are not the actions of a man who respects our free society. Obama views the First Amendment, heck the entire Constitution, as optional.
He must be stopped.